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I Just Told My Mom...


WCrystal
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Well, I just told my mom about my atheism... and she flipped!! :ugh:

Does anyone have any advice on how I can discuss this with her so that she understands that I don't want to be a cult-memeber anymore?

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We can't do really too much to help until we know roughly what you said, and how she flipped. Was it the crying, disappointed, my-baby's-going-to-hell flip, or the angry, screaming, no-x-mas-presents, disowned kind of flipped? Or maybe something else?

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"Crystal, tonight we're going to pray so that there is no rain on saturday for your little sister's party"

 

"Mom, I don't believe in god anymore and I really don't feel comfortable praying, considering I don't believe in either anymore."

 

"What?! YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD ANYMORE? YOU MADE A COMMITTMENT!!"

 

"I didn't make a committment mom, I just said I was going to go to my friend's church a few times, and it's been years since I've been."

 

"BUT YOU'RE GOING TO GO TO HELL!! DOESN'T THAT MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU?"

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I would give her some time, first of all. Then, when things are calmer, in a quiet moment (not at your little sister's party :P).

 

Try to explain, rationally..why you no longer believe. It may take a long time for her to accept, and she may never accept it.

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Staying calm, rational, and mature, is key. Christianity runs on emotions, so you can expect her to be emotional. Remember to concentrate on your breathing and taking even breaths while she's going off.

 

Be on the lookout for guilt tripping. Such as the "You made a commitment!" Ask her "To whom?" To God? You don't believe in gods. To family? You're still commited to your family, you're just not interested in religion. If she goes on about how hurt, or sad, or angry or whatever she feels and tries to say things like "YOU are doing this to me!" Tell her very politely that you're sorry she feels that way, but you have no control over HER emotions. Don't let her foist what is clearly her problems onto you.

 

If she starts using scare tactics about Hell, such as her "You're going to hell, doesn't that mean anything to you?" thing, tell her you don't believe in hell, so you don't fear it in the slightest.

 

If she asks "What if you're wrong?" Tell her that's Pascal's Wager. Islam, Hinduism, and a great many other religions posit the exact same question, so your chances of getting it "right" are rediculously small.

 

If she starts throwing out Bible verses, as nicely as you can, tell her "I am not a Christian. I don't follow the Bible."

 

If she asks about your morality, tell her that morality is the concept of right and wrong. Why does someone's sense of right or wrong have to come from a god? Why can't it be a human trait?

 

If she tries to make you concede compromise about Jesus's better teachings, don't fall for it. There is nothing that Jesus supposidly said that wasn't passed down many, many years before him, and repeated in religions across the world who have never heard of him.

 

Oh, and it might help to point out to her if she uses the word "choose" in regards to your beliefs, a person does not choose their beliefs. You either believe it or you don't. Ask her if she could choose to believe in Zeus.

 

Oh, and if she tries to corner you on specifics on things that you don't know about, it's ok to say you don't know. Don't get defensive. It's unrealistic of her to expect you to be a philosopher, scientist, or scholar just to be an athiest.

 

That was long and rambling, but that's all the major tactics I can think of. Just be nice to her. She's your mom, she's going to be worried and she's going to freak out. So be patient and kind. Again, remember that keeping a cool head is very important in convincing her of anything. Presentation is very key.

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This is my opinion, and it may not be what the rest of the people around you suggest, but it's my experience.

 

Instead of defending everything to her, you need to be simple. Things like: "I can't make a commitment to something I don't think exists", and "Fine, then I'm going to hell, there's nothing you can do about it, and I frankly don't believe in it, so I don't care how much you rant".

 

Personally, I wouldn't've just out of the blue "oh I don't believe anymore", but your methods may work well for you.

 

Just be blunt, honest, and don't take her crap.

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The only piece of advice I can add is this: Don't expect her to understand. Ever.

 

The more you try to explain yourself, the more difficult your relationship with her is going to be. No good mother could ever be comfortable "knowing" that her child will be spending eternity being licked by flames and poked with sticks and whatever else they do to you in hell. If she really believes, then she cannot accept what you have "done."

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No good mother could ever be comfortable "knowing" that her child will be spending eternity being licked by flames and poked with sticks and whatever else they do to you in hell.

It's really sad when you think about it.... how many generations of mothers have to go through this, all for the sake of a dusty old book of mythology written by a band of primitive delusional goat herders?

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You have access to a lot of brilliant minds on this discussion board and you would be well-advised to heed all of their advice. One thing that I found worked marginally well for me (nothing could completely work on my parents as they are the epitome of "fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians") was, in addition to Kurari's suggestion of Pascal's Wager, bring up the obvious fact that religion is a cultural and sectarian phenomenon that has mostly to do with what region you were born and/or raised in. If you were born in Pakistan, chances are you wouldn't be a Pentecostal or if you were born in Utah, chances are you wouldn't be a Muslim. Try to reason with her and explain that the only reason you and your family are " - - (insert faith here) - - " is because you were born into it and exposed to it most... that's no way to adhere to and defend a belief system.

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One of the problems with religion, but Christianity especially, is the thought that belief is a personal relationship. Thus problem lying within is that it may be a personal relationship, but others can't seem to remember that when it comes down to one of the "fold" trying to leave. It's a personal choice and relationship for only as long as the person making it is making the "right decision". As soon as the "wrong" one is made, it becomes like the Inquisition all over again.

 

Needless to say, no matter how many times you try to tell her this is what you think now, she's never going to understand. The less you believe, the more desperate to see her baby in Heaven she'll be.

 

The silent treatment isn't all that bad...

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Well, I just told my mom about my atheism... and she flipped!! :ugh:

Does anyone have any advice on how I can discuss this with her so that she understands that I don't want to be a cult-memeber anymore?

 

There are several ways to deal with this.

 

1. Assuming you are a minor, and stuck at home, as your post seems to suggest. Play along until you are free. I know it's hard, but I had to put up with church, youth meetings and ralleys, and all sorts of foolishness until I was able to escape from my home.

It's hard, trying, and can be emotionally draining. However, parents can make life even more difficult if they choose to do so, and most churches have intensive brainwashing programs that are less than pleasant to experience. As a minor, there may be nothing you can do to escape such a fate should things come down to it.

I didn't like lying, I didn't like playing along, but at times, the alternative is worse. Sometimes it's best to put your chin up, and take it. Appear to give in, but don't stop learning, don't fall into the trap of foolishness, and continue to push onward in your own personal growth in private. Christians are much more tollerable if they believe you are one of them.

Hide amongst them as a wolf in sheeps clothing if you must, but only if you must.

 

2. Try and avoid the subject. Not always possible, but probably the best way. Avoid attending any religious function you can, avoid speaking of god, and when your parents or others bring it up, say nothing, or just nod.

 

2. Argue. If you feel you cannot continue and live in shadows. You have to be firm, even in the presence of a Jesus Internment Camp. Its a more difficult road than you might realize. They cannot hold you forever. Don't give in to anger, remain rational, remain firm, and eventually, they have to let you go.

 

This is a wonderful article that may assist you in arguing your point. It was written by humorist Douglas Adams, and its light enough that it might keep an emotional backlash to a minimum. Maybe.

 

http://www.americanatheist.org/win98-99/T2/silverman.html

 

Here's a bit of something I put up in my testimonial that may help. Be warned, speaking in such a way can make things worse, but your position will be clear. You may not be able to avoid a backlash.

 

Here is one such example of a conversation I've had at my job many times before, with various individuals. The details vary, but it goes largely the same every time.

 

“Have you found Jesus?”

 

“Why? Did you lose him? Do you have a description?”

 

“He's our lord and savior!”

 

“Looks like an Italian guy on a stick to me. You are aware that Jesus was Jewish? Either that, or he was Latino, I'm not entirely sure. I've heard rumors about him, supposedly he sells some fire bud. Whatever that means.”

 

“You're going to burn in hell! Let me help you!”

 

“Into ten percent of my income? No thanks. I like actually being able to have sex as well. I'm better off and healthier without basing my life on an anthology of Jewish fairy tales.”

 

“You shouldn't be so disrespectful!”

 

“Why not? You don't seem to have any problem telling me I'm wrong and how to live my life. Why should I treat you any differently? Now you're just being silly.”

 

They will gnash their teeth, become hateful and angry, and tell you that you have to respect their beliefs.

 

You must respond and stand firm. “No, I have to tolerate your stupid beliefs, not respect them. I have every right to point out the fact that you're a gullible brainwashed moron, and that your arguments lack logic or reason. You can't stop me. This is not the United States of Jesus Christ.” Assuming you live in the US of course. “In fact, I feel it is my civic duty to call you out for the unreasonable ignorant boob that you are. It is my duty as an upstanding rational human being! I cannot stand idly by why you spread this foolishness any further. You sir, are a sheep, and I'll take being a wolf over that any day.”

 

This of course leads to more frustration, which hopefully, will stop said unreasonable person from speaking to you.

 

“I have the moral high ground! You're an evil man!” they will cry.

 

“75% of the US population is Christian. 75% of the US prison population is Christian. 10% of the US population is atheist. 0.02% of the US prison population is Atheist. You do not have the higher moral ground.”

 

If you've got one of the nicer Christians, at this point they will offer to pray for you. The other type will rant and stomp away, probably to get you fired from your job. I'm fortunate enough to have a boss who will tell them no, and that they shouldn't speak with me on the issue if they don't want to be insulted in such a way, and that in fact, they have insulted me by trying to be so forceful. A rare and wonderful thing in my experience.

 

“No! Don't pray for me! Don't you know that actually increases the chances of my death? Especially if I'm in the hospital. You shouldn't, and if you must, don't say anything. It's not really comforting.”

 

“You're a bad person!”

 

“Well, I guess I could act like a good Christian and sell my sister into slavery, stone a few disobedient children to death, and murder and rape non believers, maybe burn a few innocent people at the steak, and learn to hate gay people. You know, like Jesus wanted. Oh! Maybe if I send thousands of innocent children into the Holy Land to be slaughtered if it would help?”

 

“We are not...”

 

“And apparently, forget how to read. You know, you can't pick the parts of the bible you like and ignore the rest if it's the infallible word of god. You've got to kill people for working on Sunday or having long hair too you know.”

 

“You're forgetting about all the charitable work, and good the church does!”

 

“No. That's kind of like giving community service to a serial killer as punishment. The church has done more harm than good.”

 

Naturally, this is a compilation, they usually don't hang around for more than a few rounds. Still, the principal is the same. Stand your ground and verbally slug them in the gut. It makes them less likely to push their crap on others. The more of us there are, the harder it becomes for them.

 

Viva la resistance!

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I would avoid arguing or defending yourself. It only communicates insecurity to the other person. Tell her that it's YOUR choice, not hers, and that you don't owe her an explanation (you don't). If she tries to convince or convert you, communicate firmly (but politely) that you're not interested. If she persists, walk away.

 

Again, don't try to convince her or defend your viewpoint. Not only will you get nowhere, you'll both get angry and you'll just open yourself to more conversion attempts from her. Let her know you're not interested in debating who's right.

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I agree that arguing does absolutely no good. It only alienates. Some people are open to reason but it does not sound like your mother is one of them.

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